This is the 2nd article of my 3-series on my reflections on 2018. The first two articles was about my life as a digital nomad.
In this article I reflect more about the profound experiences I’ve had.
I traveled to 9 countries (while living as a digital nomad.)
This was my travel routine:
Netherlands -> Russia (4 days) ->India (3 weeks) àNepal (3 weeks) ->India (4 weeks) -> Sri Lanka (1 month à Indonesia- Bali (1 month) ->Phillipines (one month) -> Thailand (5 days) -> Myanmar (1 month) -> Netherlands (3,5 months) ->Belgium (3 days) ->India (1 month), Sri Lanka (1 month – still here while writing this article).
Traveling to all these places meant experiencing new foods, people, languages, and cultures. However next year I’m looking forward to staying at places for longer periods of time.
Hiking in Nepal
Together with one of my best friends (Rick) I did an amazing hike in Nepal. We did the 10-day hike to Annapurna basecamp. This was so much fun and challenging. The scenery was crazy, our sherpa was hilarious. After the hike, we did a walking safari where we encountered a black bear. Amazing time and a great start of my trip.
In Rishikesh, I gave Lotte a massage course for her birthday. Nice right? However, giving it to her might be a bit selfish….. So I decided to participate as well. The teacher was a jerk but we learned a lot from him and I can officially call myself an ayurvedic massage therapist 🙂
For 3 weeks I immersed myself in Ashtanga yoga. This was so much fun and I got a lot more flexible and gained a lot of strength. We had the best teacher ever (Mukesh – a.k.a. Mukki). His English was funny and he was very patient with inflexible me. Although it was difficult I was able to learn several things (like the headstand). I still occasionally do an Ashtanga yoga class.
Surfing in Sri Lanka and Bali
I’ve been surfing for about two months in 2018. Being a snowboarder AND a bit stubborn I thought I could learn it myself. I soon found out that snowboarding and surfing are (except for the boards) totally different sports. In Sri Lanka and Bali, I started catching white waves comfortable but the last month of 2018. We were at a surf camp for a month and I started improving big time (got proper lessons) and caught my first green wave on my birthday. I have two more months of surfing here so I will definitely improve.
My first 10 day Vipassana meditation retreat was both one of the best and one of the most difficult experiences I’ve had in my life. If you’ve never heard about it: Vipassana meditation is a technique discovered by the Buddha. What I like about it is that it’s really empirical, there is no dogma or belief required. All you do for 10 hours a day is pay very close attention to your breath (first 3 days) and your bodily sensations (the other 7 days). Besides all the benefits it gives (like focus, inner peace, and a quiet mind), it gives certain insights about the nature of your mind and the actual reality experienced moment-to-moment. It’s very difficult to describe, so if you feel like challenging yourself and learning more about yourself. Do it! After this retreat, I helped at a course in the Netherlands and will do 2 retreats in Q1 of this year. You can find more information on the website dhamma.org
House sitting (sucks)
When I came back to the Netherlands we didn’t have a place to stay. So we started house sitting. Basically, it means you stay and look after a house. In our case, we stayed at houses of friends and family. I found moving from place to place every few weeks not ideal, but I am very thankful for the houses we could stay at.
Buying a Tiny House
Together with Lotte, I bought an amazing tiny house on a lake nearby Amsterdam. Because we live a nomadic lifestyle having a tiny house at our favorite place in the Netherlands is truly a gift. It’s right under Amsterdam, so we have the benefits of being close to nature but also being able to head out to the city if we want to. So when we’re not abroad we have our own place. And an extra benefit is that it’s located near a beautiful lake, so I can train my swimming capabilities.
Teaching English in Myanmar
This definitely was a great experience and a great story. When I went to Myanmar from Bangkok and I met an amazing Ukrainian girl. We spoke the whole trip and I mentioned that I was interested in teaching English in Myanmar after my meditation retreat. The next day she texted me that she was at a park and had met a few locals who were interested in teaching English. I went over and before we knew it we were taken to their neighborhood. We met their family, had food together and after a while, we were brought to a school where we were unexpectedly asked to teach an English lesson. There were around 50 people in the class from different ages varying from 10 to 50 years old. We started improvising an English class by having small conversations with the students. The class(es) ended in a heartbeat, at least it felt so. If felt so rewarding to contribute in such a fun way. That’s whats life is all about. Contribution, giving value. It felt truly amazing.
Writing this article once more made me realize what a wonderful life I live. I’m very grateful for all the amazing experiences I’ve had. Looking forward to what this year will bring.
Thanks for reading this article. Next… go check out the last article of my 3-series on my reflections of 2018.